It's certainly Christmastime in Hope.

And ushering in the kickoff for the holiday season is the Yellow Trail Museum's annual Christmas Homes Tour from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.

The best compliment the event has received over the past decade of its existence is the return of the more than 200 visitors that come to see featured homes each year, says Barb Johnson, of the Yellow Trail Museum.

"Some people say the tour is how they start their holiday season," Johnson says. "Many on the tour have not started or are in the midst of doing their own decorating."

The leisurely atmosphere of the self-guided tour allows visitors to chat with homeowners about their decorations and to garner ideas for their own homes, Johnson says.

"We had to set a limit of 300 visitors," she says. "Visitors get driving directions, a map and a phone number to call if they get lost."

This year's tour features five homes located within Hope's town limits, as well as out in the county.

Hope resident Kayla Whittington and her husband, Wesley, are featuring their Schaefer Lake log cabin for the first time.

"When we moved in it was right around Christmas last year so I couldn't do a whole lot," Kayla says. "So I'm looking forward to how Christmassy I can make the house this year."

In addition to the staples of Santa Clauses and nativity scenes, Whittington is adding a personal touch by weaving in shades of purple and gold, which were her wedding colors earlier this fall. But the highlight of the décor is certainly the handmade decorations from her wedding that were crafted by her mother, she says.

"I'm going to give them a second life and allow more people to see them," she says. "Because they are beautiful."

Among 24-year-old Whittington's eight trees is a music themed one constructed from three guitars in homage to her husband's love for music. Another tree is draped in lights allowing the couple's wedding cards to do the talking.

Whittington admits they aren't doing much with the outside because they don't want to take away from the natural beauty of the home's exterior.

Aleah Smith says she and her husband, Davis, are likewise focusing the décor in the interior of their home. As the couple has just moved to their new residence and are still settling in, landscaping is still being introduced.

"I know my mother-in-law has a seven-foot tall snowman made of rustic metal," Smith says. "So we are putting it either at the foot of the drive or near the porch."

But when it comes to the interior, Smith is not shy about showing off her knack for creativity.

"I thought I would show people what I can do, because I have that creative side like my mom does," she says. "I knew from the beginning that I wanted to participate in the tour."

Like others on the tour, Smith says her home will feature at least some kind of tree in each room. Although she says there are only two larger trees, there are smaller ones in some rooms grouped together to help her overall woodland theme flow.

"I had a whole lot of Santas on the staircase last year," she says. "And I did that again this year."

Although Smith's home featured a range of antiques last year, she admits she's downsized this year. She will still feature some antiques, but they won't be as old as last year's.

This year's tour of the Smith home will offer not only more room to move, but also an added surprise.

Smith says those who visit on the tour will get to see the home's baby room and find out the gender of the couple's anticipated bundle of joy who will be arriving in a matter of months, she says.

Visitors will have three full hours to tour the homes, Johnson says. And those who finish early are invited back to the museum to partake of the "smorgasbord" of snacks and chat about the homes until the tour closes at 9 p.m., Johnson says.

"It is just something nice to do for a small town," Smith says. "It's nice to get out and see one another's homes."